Perry swim’s Jean Dowd earns top coaching honor after two decades

Sean Cordy, Correspondent
Special to the Chief
Perry swim head coach Jean Dowd is recognized in front of the home crowd on Friday, Dec. 17.

Perry's swim team had a remarkable finish, competing in six events at the state meet and broke school records all season. Even a month after the season's conclusion, the team earned another accolade with head coach Jean Dowd being named the swimming National Federation of State High School Association Iowa Coach of the Year.

The honor is handed out each year to coaches in all sports based on coaching performance, lifetime community and school involvement, and coaching philosophy. Dowd crosses off all those boxes multiple times over.

Coaching at Perry since 1998 and as the head coach since 1999, Dowd has been at the center of Perry's development, seeing literal generations pass through the program. She originally started coaching her daughter and school record holder Christina Dowd. Hillary Mahler — mother to state qualifier Quin Mahler-Moreno — was also a team member, and is now an assistant head coach.

As for the team's success, Dowd's career was front-loaded with state meet appearances in 1999, 2000 and 2001. The team finally made it back to the top ranks when half of the team qualified for this year's meet thanks to a number of school record breakers. 

Perry swim head coach Jean Dowd is recognized in front of the home crowd on Friday, Dec. 17.

Dowd said while every team is different in their own way, it was the team's high percentage of state qualifiers that makes this year's crew stand out. Making Dowd even more proud of the team's accomplishments, swim teams are all competing on the same level whether they have the enrollment of a Waukee, CAM, or anything in-between.

"Think of what would happen if wrestling or basketball were all one class," Dowd said. Having six girls qualify for spots over metro schools with a busload of team members puts both Perry and Dowd's dedication on full display.

In addition to the NFSHS honor, Dowd was previously awarded the Golden Plaque of Distinction at the state swim meet in Marshalltown.